Grand Bahama takes the 18U division
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — For the second year in a row, the Grand Bahama Little League (GBLL) is walking off as the winner of the 18-and-under (18U) division at the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) National Championships, and for the second year in a row, they accomplished a feat after a series of games with the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN).
Just those two teams competed in the 18U Division at the nationals at the Emera Baseball Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama, this past weekend, and the GBLL took the series three games to one. JBLN came to the holiday weekend tournament short-handed, and in the end, it caught up with them, as they didn’t have the legs to finish strong. Also, after losing the first game of the series on a walk-off pass ball, that seemed to suck the life out of the 10-man JBLN team.
They lost game one, 4-3, on Friday; were slaughtered in game two, 17-1, also on Friday; bounced back to show some pride and win game three, 7-5, on Saturday; and then dropped game four, 10-6, also on Saturday.
Josiah Gibson from GBLL was the tournament’s best pitcher, and Deranaje Russell, also representing GBLL, was named as the best hitter and also won the Most Outstanding Player Award.
“It was a good tournament for us. The guys played well, and we came out on top. This is our third title in the under-18 division and it feels good,” said GBLL Team Manager Keel Pinder. “JBLN has a decent program. They brought a small team, so they had some issues, but JBLN is always a formidable opponent. We love to play them because it’s a good measuring stick for us.”
After losing a nail-biter in game one, and getting blown out in game two, JBLN showed some signs of life in the third game when they took control early and held on for a 7-5 win. Perez Burrows’ bases-clearing triple was the big blow in that game for JBLN.
In the fourth game of the series, they once again got out to a fast start. JBLN took a 3-2 lead after the first inning, but GBLL erupted for five runs in the top of the third inning and added three more in the top of the fourth. JBLN could only manage three runs the rest of the way.
“I knew we came in short-handed – with only 10 players, but I still thought they could have played a bit better,” said JBLN Team Manager Ken Adderley. “We came in on Friday morning and had two games right out of the gate. We started off on a bad foot and we tried to get back in it, but that’s how tournaments go. I think that first game took something out of us. We were completely flat in the second game and then showed signs of life and some pride in the third game. We were short on pitching throughout the four games, so we knew we were in trouble. We tried to make the best of it, and came up a bit short.”
Adderley said that a lot of players in the program, those off in high school and colleges in the United States, couldn’t make it home for the nationals, so they had to go with the players they had. They battled ferociously against a very tough GBLL team, and just came up short.
In the fourth and what turned out to be the final game of the series, Kefon Wright got the win while Giovante Tomali suffered the loss. Wright gave up four hits and four runs in three innings, while striking out four and walking two. He was relieved by Camrone Meadows. Tomali surrendered three hits and six runs in two and a third innings of work. He was relieved by Perez Burrows and Alex Collie but neither of them could get the job done.
At the plate, Russell finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored for GBLL. Four other players had a hit each. For JBLN, Perrico Mortimer and Tyrique Dorsett both finished 2-for-3. Mortimer had a RBI and a run scored, and Dorsett drove in three.
The game was stopped after five innings due to the time limit.
The Freedom Farm Baseball League (FFBL) won the 16-and-under (16U) division, and the Tee Ball (six-and-under) division ran as an exhibition between Freedom Farm, two teams from the GBLL and a team from the Legacy Baseball League. The other divisions will be contested over the next three weeks in Eleuthera and New Providence.
By the time the nationals are completed, hundreds of young talented baseball players on about 30 teams from various leagues throughout the country would have engaged in intense baseball action. The 2019 baseball nationals, the second one under the auspices of the BBA, will wrap up over the weekend of June 27-30 when the eight-and-under (8U), 10-and-under (10U) and 14-and-under (14U) divisions will be be played in New Providence. The island of Eleuthera will host the popular 12-and-under (12U) division from June 20-23.